Record number of name changes prompts work

Clare Dowdy 0171-439 4222

Company name changing has hit record heights in the US, with mergers and acquisitions leading the way.

Interbrand Schechter’s annual survey found a record 100 listed companies changed their names in the first half of this year, compared with 60 such changes in the whole of 1996. This is backed up by Anspach Grossman Enterprise’s report into corporate name changes, which showed a 7 per cent increase over the same period – the highest number of changes since the middle of 1988.

“Mergers and acquisitions are still the leading agent of change,” says Interbrand Schechter chairman Alvin Schechter.

AGE president and chief executive officer Jim Johnson agrees: “In certain industries like defence, companies have combined their operations to such an extent that only a handful remain.”

Defence company Lockheed Martin, which was created from a merger in 1995, is reported to be considering a second merger with military electronics company Northrop Grumman. This would make it the second biggest defence merger to date. AGE, formerly Anspach Grossman Portugal, designed Lockheed Martin’s identity (DW 31 March 1995). A consultancy spokeswoman cannot comment on whether AGE is in talks concerning a new marque, if the merger does go ahead.

Johnson puts the frenzied merger activity down to a continuing favourable economic climate, a buoyant securities market and a new management emphasis on core businesses.

Schechter highlights “a rise in the level of corporate awareness of brands and branding – as witnessed by the rationale behind many of the name changes and the types of names chosen”.

BankBoston, whose identity was created by Interbrand Schechter, and Chrysalis International are both examples of this rise in corporate awareness, according to the report.

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